COLUMBIA — Paula Carter decorated her van with a message, "Thanks to Governor Nixon, Senators Rupp & Schmitt, AUTISM SPEAKS! Thank you for the Missouri Autism Law!"
She drove the van to the legislation-signing ceremony Thursday. Carter said she wanted to share her thankful emotions with other Columbia citizens.
The regulations of the bill include:
- All health benefit plans issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2011, for Missouri residents or written in Missouri will provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
- An insurer shall not deny or refuse coverage on an individual or their dependent because the individual is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
- An insurer shall not limit the number of visits an individual may make to an autism service provider, but may apply a maximum total benefit.
"I am so proud to a be part of this historical moment," Carter said. "My job as a parent can be completed."
Her daughter Madeleine, 7, has autism.
Many Missouri families with autistic children will be able to access health insurance coverages for behavioral therapy.
Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Thursday afternoon to require insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. He held one of three signing ceremonies at Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorders.
Missouri became the 20th state to require insurers to cover treatment for autism.
"Because of this legislation, thousands of families in Missouri will no longer face the agonizing decisions sacrificing their financial well being in order to get these treatments for their children," Gov. Nixon said.
The eight families at the ceremony were excited, and some of them were weeping during the speech.
Nixon emphasized the importance of early diagnosis and effective treatments and called this bill as a turning point to Missouri.
"This (Applied Behavioral Analysis) coverage isgoing to make differences in everyone's life," said Tammy Maasen, whose five-year-old daughter, Tiara, has autism. "The earlier we can get them into ABA, the better off they aregoing to be."
After Nixon's speech, Madeleine gave Nixon a poster with her picture to show her appreciation for passing this legislation.
Carter said she hopes this bill will help Madeleine grow up independently and help her daughter realize her dream to become the president of the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 110 children have autism spectrum disorders in the U.S.